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OCZ Prepares Neural Impulse Actuator for Shipping 193

An anonymous reader writes "Technology review site Overclock3D has received word that OCZ Technology is putting their neural impulse actuator (NIA) into mass production for shipping next week. The device, aimed at gamers, works by reading biopotentials. 'These include activities of the brain, the autonomous nervous system and muscles — all of which are captured using embrace sensors located on the NIA's headband, amplified and sent to the PC via USB 2.0.' Users of the NIA will be able to control their in-game movements using only the power of mind. The device is priced at around $600USD"
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OCZ Prepares Neural Impulse Actuator for Shipping

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  • Insert obvious joke about Blue-Screen of Death here.
  • What happens if the device misfires an electrical signal, either due to software (buggy code) or hardware (material deficiencies, etc.)?
    • by WaXHeLL ( 452463 )
      Are you afraid that since you're strapping something on your head that it will shock you?

      Because we all know that our current interface devices, like keyboards and mice will shock you?

      I fail to see what happens if the device misfires an electrical signal as compared to any other electrical device. It's not like this device is sending an impulse into your head, but rather, its trying to detect and decode electrical impulses.
      • by jamesh ( 87723 )
        The EEG sensors that i'm familiar with require a conductive gel between them and your head. This greatly reduces the voltage required to give you serious problems. The concern is that an errant voltage (lightning strike, power surge, equipment failure) poses a much more serious threat once you have reduced the resistance between the equipment and your body.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SirSlud ( 67381 )
      Reports suggest that some side effects due to haphazard "electrical signals" result in the user asking mindbogglingly stupid questions.
  • Sorry for the team-kill, I sneezed :)

    Seriously, however... Sure it's an interesting product, but I highly doubt it's accurate enough to be of much use and it certainly won't be replacing the keyboard and mouse any time soon!

    It'll be interesting to watch this technology mature though...
  • by gijoel ( 628142 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @04:38AM (#22614406)
    If I didn't have to think in Russian.
  • by Corpuscavernosa ( 996139 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @04:39AM (#22614408)
    The online porn experience would be greatly simplified.
    • by pla ( 258480 )
      The online porn experience would be greatly simplified.

      If you can focus your brainwaves enough to move the mouse and click links while "experiencing" porn, you do it wrong.
  • Correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02, 2008 @04:40AM (#22614410)
    The article says the device will cost an estimated $300, not $600.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While many professional gamers spend many hours every day for several years training these reflexes

    but that makes even me chuckle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Datamonstar ( 845886 )
      The Evolution series of fighting game tournaments can't even touch the type of thing we see in Quake, and Halo tournaments, yet people practice indeed several days at a time most days of the year for these tournaments. I can't even imagine the sort of time a player like Justin Wong, RX, Sanford Kelly, and Demon Hyo has to put in in order to compete at the level they do so consistently. Personally, I'm a casual tournament player and I've spent hours at a time, sometimes the better portion of a day simply e
  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @04:50AM (#22614428)
    No No No.... "reaction times can be cut by anything up to 60%" I don't care about reaction times. I care about my wrists. Frag gaming, just let me move my mouse for more than an hour without painful twinges and numbness.

    Also, these idiots are missing a revolution here. I believe that something like this device coupled with HUD glasses will be a revolution as large as the mouse and GUI were back in the day.

    Right now I am coupled to my computer. It got better when I got a laptop. Now my computer comes with me. Still though, I have to take it out, sit down, and while I'm using my computer I'm stuck staring at a screen and using a keyboard/mouse. The "Mobile" in mobile computing only counts when you're not using your computer.

    Imagine if you didn't even have to take out your computer.

    Leave your computer in your bookbag or pocket. Put on your display glasses so you can see your "screen" hovering in your view. Use a headband (perhaps hidden in your hat) to control the interface (and perhaps one day type). Use speech recognition to type and control.

    No more hands. No more being chained to your computer. This frees us as much as the mouse/gui freed us, and will pave the way to opportunities I can't even imagine....

    And these idiots are touting it as a gaming gimmick. Not even one mention of UI possibilities. Sigh.

    I want my Shadowrun Comlink. The future is staring at us and people aren't even paying attention.

    • by TEMMiNK ( 699173 )
      I could see this working well with the simple commands used by a mp3 player, thought control next and previous, play and pause? Sounds good to me.
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Sunday March 02, 2008 @05:31AM (#22614560) Homepage Journal
      Hey, it's you who is failing the imagination test.

      "Mobile computing" is currently about doing the stuff you do on a desktop computer while you are not sitting at a desk. This even includes "making calls", even if you more often than not use your land line instead of something like Skype when you are at your desk.

      In the future (the magical super future) the computers that are sewn into your clothes will not be helping you check your email.. they are will be helping you do all those things that just don't make any sense if you're not on the move:

          * Helping you avoid traffic jams
          * Telling you when the next bus/train/rocket is leaving on your regular route so you know to walk faster
          * Posting your position to Facebook - or whatever takes its place
          * Keeping track of where your friends are - cause kids in the future will care more about being able to find their friends than who can see where they are.
          * Enabling you to search the local environment for businesses, single women, whatever.
          * Interacting with all the new network enabled devices that haven't been invented yet.. and don't be surprised if you can't even get a coke from a vending machine if you don't have sufficient network presence.

      and so on and so on.
      • Yes but they will also let me check email, type responses, and look up stuff on the web. All of which can be controlled by thought. There will have to be some thought pattern or sequence standardization i reckon.
      • Thinking up ideas is not a competition :)

        I still look forward to the day when I can have a BCI system interpret melodies and images running through my head, such that creating new works becomes a simple matter of imagining them, without having to go through the drudgery of writing the music or painting the picture.

    • Probably Patented... And if not, does your mentioning it here count as prior art? Really good look at the future of computing, especially if this device works by reading thoughts. Hell, you could morse code characters with your thoughts initially, if need be.
    • You're quite right, but the problem is that the tech just doesn't work well enough yet for what you are saying.  Hell, find me those glasses, let alone the neural interface...
      • by dissy ( 172727 )

        You're quite right, but the problem is that the tech just doesn't work well enough yet for what you are saying. Hell, find me those glasses, let alone the neural interface...

        Here are (close to at least) those glasses: []

        I can't find the link for it now, but I have seen a pair that also let you look 'through' them to see whats in front of you as well.
        The above glasses just need a small camera mounted to the front for the same effect, so possible with todays tech just not quite at a production/commercial level right now.

        Oh, and yea sorry, no neural interfaces yet :{

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Mathness ( 145187 )

      Use a headband (perhaps hidden in your hat) to control the interface ...
      1940 called, they want you back. :p
    • If using the mouse hurts your wrist, get a trackman. They're awesome. Plus, you can turn down your pointer acceleration and still conserve a lot of space since you don't need to move anything but your thumb.

      In any case, there's something even more important than having display glasses let you use your computer while mobile: This is a major step towards augmented reality []. We can do the visual overlay with some effort, and the audio overlay is as simple as a mic & headphones. But this is what will enable you to do something in virtual reality without appearing to be in a trance. Just fucking think about that for a second. Don't like your home decor? Think your way through the menus and *poof,* new decor is overlaid on your walls - no pesky laws of physics attached either. Instead of talking into a block, you talk to your friend's avatar right in front of you (which is copying your friend's facial expressions to boot). Teleconference? Telepresence. You'd never get lost again - stick a GPS card into your laptop and overlay a line leading you to your destination in your vision. Designing something? Have the design hover in front of you, see how it fits in.

      I mean, augmented reality is pretty much the next best thing before the Singularity. Imagine living at the intersection of two realities, physical and cyber. An LCOS display in your glasses overlays the cyber world (however you wish to perceive it) onto a video feed captured by stereo cameras mounted on the rims. A next-generation cochlear implant overlays sounds from your computer - pings about new e-mails, new aim info, new searches, new news - straight into your mind. My book hovers in front of me and flips the page when my eyes reach the last line.

      This is incomprehensibly awesome.
      • "This is incomprehensibly awesome."

        You seem to be comprehending how awesome it could be quite fine :)
        • No, he's right.


          It would be real life, but with blackwalls and an aimbot and radar. Get things tied in tight enough and your computer power could even help you, say, catch a ball.. since that's so hard for the Stereotypical Geek Of The Future From The 1950s. ... but actually and seriously help you catch a ball. Moving object, distance, trajectory, some math, ball will be HERE. If you've got things running casually it may do nothing, if you want to know where it's going you could have an
          • You're looking even farther out than I am. I was drooling over the idea of computer overlays on our main input senses; You're talking about having computer overlays on the body itself, the "outputs." Then it gets even MORE interesting.

            Try to imagine what it would be like if you had a subsentient system that could drive your body while your mind was free. The professor and his entire quantum physics class go out for their usual five mile run, while in the mind's eye they hover in front of glowing differen
      • Ahh, you appear to be reading the Hobbit. Turn the page for an unobtrusive text message beamed directly into your optic nerve.
    • Right now I am coupled to my computer.

      Man, I like my computers a lot, but not enough to go THAT FAR!
    • No No No.... "reaction times can be cut by anything up to 60%" I don't care about reaction times. I care about my wrists. Frag gaming, just let me move my mouse for more than an hour without painful twinges and numbness.

      Watch out dude, you may be in for some serious pain in the future if you don't change something. Having seen this kind of issue before, I'd say you probably have too much tension in your hand somewhere while playing. I haven't seen your playing style, so I can't tell you exactly what to do, but you have to find a way to move the mouse without so much tension in your wrist.
      I would suggest that maybe you should move your hand back a bit from the mouse, and hold it with your finger tips only. This will al

  • ... Linux driver?

    • It shall be released once linux gaming makes it mainstream.

      Screw you, 30 second timer.
    • If you don't see a Linux driver for anything, don't complain - code. It isn't hard to learn, or to implement. Then, once you're finished you have a working device and you can be the hero of a small subset of the OSS community.

      ...or, have you forgotten that the entire reason OSS is supposed to be much better than closed source is that everyone/anyone can (and should) improve it?
      • by WK2 ( 1072560 )
        Here's the problem. Not everybody who uses a computer is a programmer.

        My solution is to wait for these devices to get better. I've used similar, and I highly doubt that this thing is worth it's own weight in salt, at least to an end-user. Eventually, however, these things will be better, and more common. If Linux hasn't gotten more popular yet, then maybe most devices will not have a Linux driver. On the other hand, maybe these will all share a driver. Keyboards and mice, for example, unless really bizarre,
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Aleksej ( 1110877 )
        Will they put the specifications out under a free unencumbered licence?
    • cat /dev/urandom > /dev/input/js0
  • My friend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smordnys s'regrepsA ( 1160895 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @05:10AM (#22614484) Journal
    My friend did his thesis on using (basically) this system to help invalids participate in the world, about 10 years ago. According to him, at first everyone can raise or lower all their brain waves at once, and within a month can raise or lower a specific wave. At first for it to be accurate, you need to have the system read muscle movement for facial tics, but gradually you can phase out this input as the patient becomes more adept at controlling his mental state. The hardest part of writing his thesis was getting time with the equipment.

    Forget about games, this being mass-produced is a great step towards turning the handicapped into the handicapable .

    Also, look for the New Agers gobbling this stuff up for their meditation ceremonies.
    • Forget about games, this being mass-produced is a great step towards turning the handicapped into the handicapable .

      Don't let George Carlin hear you talking like that.
  • I'm not disabled myself
    but the first thing that comes to mind with one of these things
    is if it could be used to control motorized missing limbs?
    wikipedia mentions neural interfaces that connect directly to the brain []

    if you could carry a laptop around with one of these little boxes
    it might be a bit more convenient (and perhaps safer) that having direct brain implants
    with enough time and miniaturization you might even be able to get feedback
    not to mention
  • Sorry, bit confused, but from the article:

    People wanting to get a slice of the action as soon as it arrives with retailers can expect to pay around $300USD - a bargain considering the R&D that has gone into the device.
    Perhaps I missed something, but that is $300 USD, not $600 USD?
    • i'm confused myself, as i've seen some articles quoting the price as 300, which is about $600 USD, and others saying $300.
    • I believe they're $300 each, but you have to buy two of them ... one for each frontal lobe.
  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @05:21AM (#22614520)
    Bioptentials is not a word. There are plenty of words they could have used, there was no need to make one up.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The part that was quoted had the word mistyped. The word is later correctly spelled as biopotential.
    • there was no need to make one up.

      Not true. Without prior art, it made it easier apply a trademark for "ptential" lawsuits ;)
    • by pla ( 258480 )
      Bioptentials is not a word.

      True. But if you add the missing "o" in there, Google gives 3500 hits, and Wikipedia defines it as "In biology a signal or biopotential is an electric quantity (voltage or current or field strength), caused by chemical reactions of charged ions.
  • I'm torn as to whether this would improve gaming ability or decrease gaming ability.

    For instance it is unlikely that the sensor will be able to map the complex ideas of the mind, instead it would reduce it to basic commands, so they can be mapped to the computer.

    However, this would mean you would have to cognitively think of something, to product the desired result.

    Now if I'm trying to think of something to produce the result, how much does this conflict with me strategizing?

    At present the commands are mapp
    • it is unlikely that the sensor will be able to map the complex ideas of the mind, instead it would reduce it to basic commands, so they can be mapped to the computer.

      I wonder if it could pick up the OhFuckGetmeOutOfHere signal in the brain when things go really bad and bind it to generic backout/escape/undo actions. Handy for ejector seats in military aircraft too.

      I work with ATC user interfaces and I wonder if something like this could be used to sense cognitive overload when the controllers job gets busy.

  • competitor (Score:5, Informative)

    by Danny Rathjens ( 8471 ) <<gro.snejhtar> <ta> <2todhsals>> on Sunday March 02, 2008 @05:28AM (#22614550)
    Looks like they may be beating [] 's "EPOC Neuroheadset" to market by several months. The claim for the EPOC was that it would be available for the holidays at the end of 2008. Interesting that they are also planning to sell for the same $300 price as this OCZ one.
  • I've read a couple of articles about it now, and they've both said $300 but the summary says $600... what gives?
    • Projected change in value of the US dollar over the next 2 weeks perhaps? I didn't think it was falling quite that fast though, it will probably only be $500.
  • They had something very similar back in the day for the Sega Genesis I do believe. It was marketed as 'mind controlled' or what have you but in all actually got it's input from the muscle movements around your eyes which in turn the head band you would be wearing would interpret as some sort of signal. If I remember correctly it performed about as well as an NES Power Glove. []
    • I hate to reply to myself but,

      However, the nia does have a big advantage over the traditional mouse with OCZ claiming that reaction times can be cut by anything up to 60%.

      Why that may very well be true, but we are talking about milliseconds here... If I remember correctly, that is an issue in neuro science as to why we don't notice the actual lag from when our brain sends the command and our muscles respond... I believe it was in an Scientific American 'Mind' quarterly from a year or two ago (I'll dig it out later if need be). Either way theres a lag between command and response, but in the 200-300ms region (which we don't perceive, one of the

  • When you're playing Battlefield 1942 and you see a tank shell coming for your face? I find it very hard to believe this kind of technology will be able to interpret the "OH SHIT" reflex accurately...
  • It's unclear from the description what this actually does. I don't think they claim that it reads electrical signals from the brain directly. There are lots of other electrical signals that it might be reading.

    Of course, whatever it reads, it may still be useful.
  • by DraconPern ( 521756 ) <draconpern AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday March 02, 2008 @06:01AM (#22614652) Homepage
    Brain interfaced targetting support? better UVA flight manuvers? Attack helicopters needing only one person because the pilot can now control the gun with his mind? If the military thought using xbox 360 controls was innovative... wait until we present these things to the brass!
    • It's been tried, repeatedly, for tools like the Boston Arm and other workarounds for severed nerves. There's a huge phase delay in any controls because of the amount of filtering needed to read the actual neurological impulse, apart from electrical noise on the skin. We're talking about 200 msec delay, minimum. That's fine for simple tasks like "lower the landing gear" or "turn on the afterburner". But for something timing sensitive, like controlling your aim-point or having your character time a jump as th
    • Wait until someone figures out how to HERF those systems. Better have multiple control interfaces that fail gracefully!
  • by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizard.ecis@com> on Sunday March 02, 2008 @07:10AM (#22614768) Homepage
    I hope to see people buying these and writing Linux hacks to get it working on Linux as soon as it goes on sale... maybe we can have a kernel driver by the 2.6.30 release?

    I then hope to see people writing FOSS APIs that can be used in non-gaming applications (word processor, anyone? Lots of embedded possibilities... imagine using this as a UI for graphics applications... whether for paint or CAD/CAM apps)
  • by Emil Brink ( 69213 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @08:01AM (#22614896) Homepage
    How can the product be an actuator, and consist of sensors? Aren't those like ... opposites? Am I just being old-fashioned in thinking of the device as a sensor, used by the computer, to detect brain activity? Is a joystick also an actuator?
  • by adamchou ( 993073 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @08:37AM (#22614972)

    From TFA... "the OCZ neural impulse actuator doesn't use electrode cream, which is a good thing because the last thing gamers would want to do is lube up before playing their favorite game."

    They clearly haven't tested it with this game [] yet...
  • This is so real. (Score:4, Informative)

    by BluFusion ( 1249440 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @10:01AM (#22615174)
    ... WOW.
    ... WOW.

    It is real and the technology exists. I have had past PERSONAL experience with computer control via neural feedback.

    --side story to explain: I have ADD and aspergers. When I was about 8 (I think) I saw for some time a particular specialist and one of the activities I did was to be hooked up (with electrodes on my head) to a computer and navigate a 2D map with a little dot.

    Not quite the level of control that you'd need however I can tell you with practice it gets easier.

    This is amazing stuff. I'm so getting one.
    • by bhima ( 46039 ) *
      I have those as well. However, when I was 8 computers were gigantic things hidden away in big businesses or government facilities. My treatment recollections include odd stereograms, tactile & balance exercises, and being spun *a lot*. To this day I remember the odor of the hammock machination thing and the room they used to spin me in. Being exposed to anything similar makes me ill. Really, Really ill.
  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @10:56AM (#22615336) Homepage

    Users of the NIA will be able to control their in-game movements using only the power of mind.

    'Tis a shame some won't be able to play. :)
  • When World of Warcraft addicts are too weak and their physical mobility has been compromised they can just lay in bed and use their mind to handle those multi-day raids.
  • When U realize $600 has the buying power of $150 8 years ago, it's a pretty low price. If it really works, it could be quite valuable. Have a feeling it has a few gyros & accelerometers in addition to the "neural" sensors.

  • The article isn't clear about just what you'd be able to do with this thing in terms of input. I'm interested in FPS games mostly. Will you be able to control aim or walk or what? If I still had to use the mouse to aim, but could "press" fire with my brain, that 60% increase in reaction time would be helpful for those critical sniper v. sniper head-shots in Teamfortress 2. Or say I could handle all keyboard input--walking, weapon switching, crouch/jump--but still had to aim with my mouse. I'd be cool with t

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